OAKLAND – The Los Angeles Angels took the field Sunday with hopes of salvaging a game at the Coliseum this weekend, and those hopes were riding on ace Jered Weaver taking the mound and keeping the A’s in check.
Then the third inning rolled around Sunday. The A’s got to the lanky right-hander for four runs to take control and rolled to a 6-3 victory to complete a three-game sweep.
In doing so, the A’s capped a 5-2 homestand against the Angels and Detroit Tigers that wipes out the bad vibes from a season-long four-game losing streak. More importantly, they picked up three games on the second-place Angels and now lead the American League West by 4 ½ games as they head out for a nine-game road trip that begins Tuesday against the New York Yankees.
The A’s knocked Weaver around for 11 hits, the most that the three-time All-Star has allowed all season. Several different hitters got in on the act for the A’s, who got a homer from Jed Lowrie and two RBI from Josh Donaldson to lead the way
Starting pitching report
Sonny Gray (6-1) wasn’t his sharpest, but he went 6 2/3 innings and minimized damage after his teammates handed him a 4-0 lead in the third. He allowed three runs on seven hits and three walks. He pitched with traffic on the bases in the second and the fourth but held the Angels off the board each time. The bases were loaded with two outs in the fourth, but Gray got Hank Conger looking on a 95 mile-per-hour fastball.
Gray is 3-1 with a 3.43 ERA in seven starts at home compared to 3-0 with a 1.25 ERA in five starts on the road.
Sean Doolittle did well in nailing down the save, but Dan Otero and Luke Gregerson are starting to shoulder a heavy work load with Jim Johnson being used so sparingly. It’s a good thing that Ryan Cook is coming off the D.L. soon.
At the plate
The four-run third was the type of “pass the baton” rally that A’s hitting coach Chili Davis likes to preach the virtues of. Coco Crisp drove an RBI double to right-center to bring home the first run. After John Jaso walked to load the bases, Josh Donaldson knocked a two-run single through the left side. Two batters later, Lowrie delivered a two-out single to right that scored Jaso for a 4-0 margin.
In the fifth, Lowrie got the green light on 3-0 and drove a pitch from Weaver over the right field wall. The Angels’ defense helped out in the sixth as Eric Sogard tapped an infield single to the right side and second baseman Howie Kendrick made an errant throw to first that allowed Craig Gentry to score.
It was a good afternoon for the badly slumping Sogard, who singled three times and scored a run. All told, the bottom three hitters in Oakland’s batting order went a combined 7 for 12 with three runs.
In the field
Gray showed his defensive prowess in the sixth, albeit in an awkward way. He covered first on Kendrick’s grounder but got a low throw from first baseman Alberto Callaspo. Gray fell to his knees to catch the ball and had to dive to touch the bag and get the out. That’s not the kind of play the A’s want their young ace exposing his body on. But Gray got a big assist from Callaspo in the first, when he took a throw from Lowrie to complete a 6-3 putout and then fired across the diamond to nail Kole Calhoun, who was trying to advance to third on the throw.
A crowd of 32,231 showed up on “Chip ‘N Chili” platter day, a giveaway in honor of A’s bench coach Chip Hale and hitting coach Chili Davis.
The A’s make their only regular-season trip to Yankee Stadium to begin a nine-game road trip. Tuesday’s opener – Scott Kazmir (6-2, 2.36) vs. Hiroki Kuroda (4-3, 4.57), 4:05 p.m. Wednesday – Jesse Chavez (4-3, 2.78) vs. Vidal Nuno (1-2, 5.48), 4:05 p.m. Thursday – Drew Pomeranz (5-2, 2.37) vs. Masahiro Tanaka (8-1, 2.06), 10:05 a.m.